Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 3

Japan's Foreign Policy to Promote National and Worldwide Interests

2.Response to Global Issues

(1) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda)” is a set of international development goals to be achieved by 2030, which was adopted by the UN summit in September 2015 as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 2030 Agenda lists the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets that are interrelated and closely linked to each other, and which serve as development goals for the whole of the international community including developed countries. Japan has consistently and proactively contributed to discussions and negotiations for the 2030 Agenda even before full-fledged discussions got underway in the international community. At the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, held under Japan's G7 Presidency, the commitment toward achieving the SDGs was affirmed as a priority issue in development cooperation. In May, with the aim of exerting leadership as the chair of the summit, Japan decided to establish the SDGs Promotion Headquarters headed by the Prime Minister and composed of all Cabinet Ministers as members, and to formulate its guiding principles toward the implementation of the SDGs. While advancing on the formulation of the guiding principles, SDGs Promotion Round Table Meetings were held in September and November, bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from NGOs, academia, private sector, and international organizations to exchange their views. Public comments were also solicited. As a result, the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles, comprising the text of the guiding principles and an appendix, was adopted at the Second Meeting of the SDGs Promotion Headquarters held in December. These Guiding Principles set forth the vision to “Become a leader toward a future where economic, social and environmental improvements are attained in an integrated, sustainable and resilient manner while leaving no one behind,” and prescribe five implementation principles and contents for follow-up action. As pillars for initiatives aimed at the achievement of the vision, the document points out the SDG areas that Japan should put particular effort into, and lists eight priority issues drawn up by reconstructing the contents of the SDGs to correspond to the Japanese context. The appendix consists of 140 domestic and foreign policies submitted by the relevant ministries and agencies as concrete measures to be promoted for each of the eight priority issues. Under these Implementation Guiding Principles, Japan will work in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders, and continue to take the lead in global efforts to achieve the SDGs.

A Human Security

Human security is a concept aiming at creating a community in which people can fully develop their potential through protecting all individuals, and at the same time empowering them to solve their own problems. Japan identifies human security as one of its diplomatic pillars and has been working on dissemination and implementation of this notion through discussions at the United Nations, the use of the UN Human Security Trust Fund established by Japan's initiatives, and also Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. The 2030 Agenda also reflects the notion of human security as its core value such as “people-centered” and “leave no one behind” and its core reflects the concept of human security.

B Approaches in the Area of Disaster Risk Reduction

In the area of disaster risk reduction, 200 million people are affected by disasters every year (90% of the victims are citizens of developing countries) and the annual average loss incurred by natural disasters is over 100 billion US dollars. Disaster risk reduction is essential for realizing poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Japan, having experienced many disasters, hosted the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai in March 2015, and took the lead in the adoption of the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,” a guideline for efforts by the international community in disaster risk reduction that covers 15 years from 2015. Japan is also actively involved in cooperation in the area of disaster risk reduction, announcing the “Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction” as an independent contribution from Japan, and declaring the provision of cooperation amounting to 4 billion US dollars over the next four years from 2015 to 2018 and the development of about 40,000 human resources in total.

Coinciding with the World Tsunami Awareness Day (November 5), proposed by Japan and enacted at the 70th UN General Assembly held in December 2015, Japan took the lead in organizing various conferences and evacuation drills in 2016 to raise awareness about tsunami in countries around the world; in November, the High School Students Summit on “World Tsunami Awareness Day” in Kuroshio was held in Kuroshio, Kochi Prefecture. About 360 high school students from 30 countries including Japan participated in this Summit, where they learned about the history of tsunami in Japan, as well as its disaster readiness and mitigation efforts, delivered presentations about future issues and initiatives in their own countries, and adopted the “Kuroshio Declaration” as the outcome document of the Summit.

Going forward, Japan plans to share the experience and lessons obtained from past disasters with the world, and continue to promote the “mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction” to have every country incorporate disaster risk reduction in its policies.

C Approaches in the Area of Education

In the area of education, Japan announced “Learning Strategy for Peace and Growth,” a new strategy for Japan's international cooperation on education, in line with the timing for the adoption of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in September 2015. The new strategy specifies “educational cooperation to achieve inclusive, equitable and quality learning,” “educational cooperation for industrial, science and technology human resource development and sustainable socio economic development,” and “establishment and expansion of global and regional networks for educational cooperation” as guiding principles. Based on these guiding principles, Japan is providing various forms of educational support in countries around the world. It is also an active participant in education support-related fora including the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ~ Cooperation with a Wide Range of stakeholders ~

The SDGs were adopted unanimously at the UN Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015. They set out 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030 for the entire international community including developed countries. The SDGs build on the targets established under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, and water and hygiene. In addition to further promoting these goals, the SDGs also incorporate goals that were not clearly set out in the MDGs, including economic growth, infrastructure, and climate change measures. As the SDGs are comprehensive and cover a broad scope, cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders (private-enterprises, NGOs, academia, etc.) is vital in order to achieve them.

To that end, the Government of Japan has engaged in exchanges of opinions with the people from diverse fields as part of its process of formulating the “SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles,” which is a set of guidelines for Japan's initiatives. Specifically, the SDGs Promotion Round Table Meeting was established under the umbrella of the SDGs Promotion Headquarters in September 2016. This Round Table Meeting brings together relevant parties from the government, NGOs, NPOs, experts, private sectors, international organizations, and various organizations to exchange their opinions, with the aim of cooperating with a wide range of stakeholders to promote Japan's initiatives toward achieving the SDGs. The first meeting was held in September 2016, and the second meeting in November of the same year, as members engaged in discussions toward the formulation of the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles. The basic framework of the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles was established based on discussions held during the first meeting, and public comments were solicited from the general public in October, between the two meetings. Taking into account the diverse views and feedback received through this process, the final SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles were adopted by the SDGs Promotion Headquarters in December.

A joint press conference was held on the day of the launch of the Guiding Principles. This was hosted by the Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs, an organization established by civil society such as NGOs and NPOs to promote the SDGs. This press conference was attended by members of the Round Table Meeting and government representatives, who welcomed the formulation of the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles and declared their resolve toward the implementation of the SDGs. Under the Guiding Principles, the Government of Japan will strengthen cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders toward the realization of “a society where no one is left behind,” and promote the steady implementation of the SDGs.

Second SDGs Promotion Round Table Meeting (November 11, Tokyo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs)Second SDGs Promotion Round Table Meeting (November 11, Tokyo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Joint press conference of the Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs (December 22, Tokyo, Japan National Press Club)Joint press conference of the Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs (December 22, Tokyo, Japan National Press Club)
D Approaches in Agricultural Areas

In coordination with the relevant countries, such as G7 or G20 member states and international organizations, Japan has delivered assistance for agriculture and rural development in developing countries. In April, Japan hosted the G7 Niigata Agriculture Ministers' Meeting. At this Meeting, the “Niigata Declaration,” which seeks to strengthen global food security, was adopted and issued.

E Approaches in the Area of Water

Japan has continuously been the largest donor in the area of water since the 1990's and has implemented high quality assistance utilizing Japan's experiences, expertise, and technologies. Japan proactively participates in discussions in the international community, and tackles global issues in the area of water based on its contributions to date.

(2) Global Health

Overcoming health issues that threaten lives and hinder all kinds of social, cultural and economic activities is a common global challenge directly linked with human security. Japan has advocated human security, which underlines the “Proactive Contribution to Peace” and has acted in support of that principle. Japan regards health as its indispensable element. Japan has achieved the world's highest healthy life expectancy and is further expected to play a proactive role in the area of health. Japan aims to realize the international community that enhances the people's health as well as ensures the right to health through assisting the area of global health.

Under this principle, Japan has achieved remarkable results in overcoming health issues such as infectious diseases outbreak, maternal and child health and nutrition improvements through cooperation with a number of countries and various international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Particularly in 2016, Japan exerted its leadership and took the lead in discussions with a view to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) that ensures affordable access to basic health servives for all whenever they need them throughout their lives based on the Basic Design for Peace and Health formulated in 2015 as its Global Health policy under the Development Cooperation Charter.

At the G7 Ise-Shima Summit held in May, Japan led discussions as the presidency and health was a major issue covered in the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders' Declaration. An agreement was reached on the following three areas: (1) Strengthening response capability to public health emergencies such as infectious diseases outbreak; (2) Promoting UHC that contributes to responding health emergencies; and (3) Strengthening response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The G7 Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health was issued with respect to these areas. As part of the concrete contributions from Japan, Prime Minister Abe also declared a policy to provide support of approximately 1.1 billion US dollars for global health institutions, with the aim of enabling response to public health emergencies and infectious disease countermeasures, and strengthening health systems toward the achievement of UHC. Moreover, a government delegation led by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hamachi participated in the United Nations HIV/AIDS High-Level Meeting held in June, introducing the outcomes of the Summit and reaffirming Japan's resolve to contribute further in the area of global health.

Health was prioritized issue at the TICAD VI meeting held in August, while the Nairobi Declaration set forth agreement on strengthening response to public health crises and promoting UHC, which contributes to the prevention/preparation for crises and promoting resilient health systems for quality of life. Further to this, with regard to the contributions of about 1.1 billion US dollars declared by Prime Minister Abe at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, Japan indicated more than 500 million US dollars will be provided to Africa through the Global Fund, Gavi, and other mechanisms, thereby increasing the number of lives saved to more than about 300,000, the number of experts and policymakers developed for their capacity to counter infectious diseases to about 20,000, and the number of people who are able to access basic health services to about 2 million.

Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hamachi delivering a speech on behalf of the Government of Japan at the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (June 9, New York, U.S.)Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hamachi delivering a speech on behalf of the Government of Japan at the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS (June 9, New York, U.S.)

(3) Environmental Issues and Climate Change

A Global Environmental Issues

Japan is fully engaged in addressing the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of the natural environment with a view to realizing sustainable development through its active participation in multilateral environmental agreements, as well as various international conferences and fora focused on environmental matters. The importance of these initiatives is increasingly recognized worldwide, as shown from the fact that environmental targets were clearly outlined in the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted in 2015.

(A) Conservation of Biodiversity

From September to October, the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. At this meeting, it was recommended to take necessary measures to close the domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade. Decisions were also made on matters such as the listing of sharks and rays as species subject to trade regulations in the CITES appendices. In November, the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade was held in Vietnam, which resulted in the issuance of a statement by the participating countries emphasizing the importance of taking concrete actions to fight against illegal wildlife trade.

In December, the 13th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held in Cancun, Mexico. Discussions were held on various issues related to biodiversity, including the progress and status toward the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted at COP10 in 2010, and mainstreaming biodiversity in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fishery, and tourism, into the mainstream.

In September, the 6th World Conservation Congress (WCC6), the highest decision-making body of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which meets once every four years, was held in Honolulu, the United States. Decisions were made on the IUCN programme, and various resolutions and recommendations were adopted at this Congress.

Closing Ceremony of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (October 4, Johannesburg, South Africa)Closing Ceremony of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (October 4, Johannesburg, South Africa)
13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (December 4-17, Cancun, Mexico)13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (December 4-17, Cancun, Mexico)
(B) Conservation of Forests

In November, at the 52nd Council of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), discussions were held on global efforts for sustainable forest management.

(C) International Management of Hazardous Chemicals/Hazardous Waste

As for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (adopted in October 2013), relevant countries are continuing discussions towards its entry into force (35 countries became Parties as of the end of 2016). Japan concluded the Convention in February.

In October, the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was held in Kigali, Rwanda. At this Meeting, an amendment to add hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to the controlled substances under the protocol was adopted. HFCs were developed as the alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and contribute to global warming while they do not deplete the ozone layer.

(D) Protection of the Marine Environment

At the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the London Convention (Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter) held in September, discussions were held on matters including strategic plans and the prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes.

With regard to the conservation of the marine environment of the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, the 21st Intergovernmental Meeting for the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP), which involves cooperation among Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia, was held in Seoul, South Korea, in October.

At the G7 Ise-Shima Summit held in May, hosted by Japan, leaders reaffirmed to tackle the problem of marine litter under the section on Resource Efficiency and the 3Rs in the Leaders' Declaration.

B Climate Change
(A) Entry into force of the Paris Agreement, and the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22)

A concerted effort by the international community is essential in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming; however, the Kyoto Protocol adopted at the third session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) in 1997 required only developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a result of active negotiations spanning several years, including the “Durban Agreement” of 20114, the Paris Agreement was adopted at COP21 held in Paris in December 2015. The Paris Agreement is a fair and effective framework that does not distinguish between developed and developing countries, implementing initiatives toward the achievement of targets established independently and submitted by countries with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. During this negotiation process, Japan contributed actively to making concrete proposals on system design, and to the agreement and adoption processes. It also provided a strong boost toward the conclusion of the agreement toward Prime Minister Abe's declaration to provide approximately 1.3 trillion yen of support to developing countries in 2020.

After the adoption of the Agreement, the focus shifted toward the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Partly as a result of the heightened momentum in the international community with the simultaneous ratification of the Agreement by the United States and China in September 2016, the criteria for Agreement to come into force was met (55 or more parties to the Agreement, and total emissions of 55% or more for these countries as a percentage of the total emissions for the international community as a whole), and the Paris Agreement came into force on November 4. Japan has also worked to build the momentum toward the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, including the issuance of the Leaders' Declaration at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit held under the Presidency of Japan in May, which established the goal of ensuring the entry into force of the Paris Agreement in 2016. Japan ratified the Agreement on November 8.

At COP22 held in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016, and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1), the attention was placed on how to proceed with the formulation of the relevant guidelines of the Agreement, as part of the process after the entering into force of the Paris Agreement. In this respect, Japan approached negotiations with its focus placed on the following two points: (1) Regardless of whether a country has ratified the Agreement, through the continued participation of all countries in the review of the relevant guidelines, all countries should take ownership over the guiding principles that are drawn up; (2) The progress of discussions concerning the future direction of the relevant guidelines of the Paris Agreement. In particular, Japan asserted that the relevant guidelines should be drawn up by 2018 in order to provide clarity for future processes, and that a concrete plan for processes should be formulated by the next meeting to be held in May 2017. As a result of two-week long discussions among the related countries, the following two decisions were reached, among others: (1) To engage in negotiations on the formulation of the relevant guidelines for the Paris Agreement with the continued participation of all countries going forward; (2) After the convention of relevant meetings in 2017 and confirmation of the progress status of work on the formulation of the relevant guidelines, the final implementation guiding principles shall be adopted by 2018. In this way, an agreement was reached on the specific timeline for the formulation of the relevant guidelines, with Japan's assertions incorporated. This represented a significant achievement on climate change negotiations in 2016. The strengthening of initiatives by various entities was also an important point raised at this COP, and an event was held with the aim of strengthening actions by non-governmental bodies including local governments and corporations. Going forward, Japan will continue to work closely with the relevant countries to enhance the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement, while engaging actively in the relevant negotiations.

22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (November 7-18, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: UNFCCC)22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (November 7-18, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: UNFCCC)

  • 4 Contents included (1) Agreement on a new legal framework for all countries to participate by the year 2015; (2) The entry into force of the same framework from 2020. Decided on at COP17.
  • 5 Project (known as “SIP Caravan”) to introduce , the SIP (Strategic Innovation Promotion Program) , which is a new type of Japanese national project for science, technology and innovation, spearheaded by the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI) as it exercises its headquarters function to accomplish its role in leading science, technology and innovation beyond the framework of government ministries and traditional disciplines by facilitating coordination among government, industry and academic entities under 11 themes, in order to lay the groundwork for future international cooperation, as well as for the international dissemination of Japan's research and development output, through cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (diplomatic missions overseas).
  • 6 Organized in Germany in June 2016, and in Austria, France, and the United Kingdom in October 2016.
(B) Approach on Support for Developing Countries

As many developing countries are unable to adequately implement climate change policies with solely their own funds and implementation capabilities, developed countries including Japan are promoting initiatives to provide active support for developing countries.

As a part of these initiatives, in 2009, developed countries made a commitment to mobilize 100 billion US dollars from the public and private sectors combined by the year 2020 (Copenhagen Accord). In connection with this, at a prior meeting held in October 2016 ahead of COP22, developed countries announced the “Roadmap to 100 billion dollars” initiative. This is an initiative led by developed countries to clarify the path toward the realization of plans to mobilize 100 billion US dollars in funds, and was welcomed by the international community, including developing countries, at the related negotiations, including COP22.

The Green Climate fund (GCF) also plays an important role as a multilateral fund that provides support to developing countries for adapting to the impact of greenhouse gas emission reductions and climate change. Japan contributes funds to the GCF based on the Act on Contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Accompanying Measures enacted in 2015, and participates actively in the management of the Fund as a board member of GCF, including the selection of projects to provide support to. As of December 2016, the GCF Board has approved 35 projects to support.

(C) Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM)

The JCM is a mechanism to appropriately evaluate contributions from Japan to GHG emission reductions or removals in a quantitative manner and use them to achieve Japan's emission reduction target through the diffusion of low carbon technologies, products, systems, services, and infrastructure as well as implementation of mitigation actions in developing countries. To date, Japan has established the JCM mechanism with 16 partner countries. In 2016, the initiative has steadily produced results, with the issuance of credits from projects in Indonesia (May), Mongolia (September), and Palau (December).

(D) Other Initiatives by Japan

In October, the Seminar for Capacity Development for Transparency to Implement the Paris Agreement was held for six countries in Asia and members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat. During this Seminar, participants shared their recognition on the capacity support needed to report on the status of achievement of nationally determined contributions (NDC) for emissions reduction, which is important in encouraging developing countries to reduce emissions. In January 2017, G7 officials from each country and experts from Japan and abroad were invited to an experts' meeting and working group on climate change and vulnerability, where they deepened their awareness on the security implications of the climate change issues that have drawn attention lately.

The 14th Informal Meeting on Further Actions Against Climate Change held in Tokyo in February 2016 was the first meeting that brought together negotiators from major countries after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the new international framework for climate change measures. This Meeting saw the lively exchange of views toward the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

(E) Initiatives Related to Climate Change Measures in the Field of International Aviation

With regard to greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the field of international aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established a global reduction target of improving fuel efficiency by 2% every year, and not increasing total emissions after 2020. To achieve this goal, ICAO has conducted discussions on the introduction of new technologies, improved aircraft operation methods, utilized alternative fuels as well as the establishment of global market-based measures (GMBM). Within this context, a resolution that prescribes the contents of GMBM was adopted unanimously at the 39th Assembly of ICAO in October 2016 held in Montreal. In particular, this triggered the process of greenhouse gas emissions reduction through the purchase of emission credits with effect from 2021 for countries voluntarily participating in the program including Japan. In addition, starting from 2027, all countries will participate in the system, with the exception of countries that generate emissions below a certain level. Japan will continue to contribute actively to reviews by ICAO on the details of the GMBM, and work on taking the necessary steps toward the start of operations.

(4) Arctic and Antarctic

A Arctic
(A) Current situation in the Arctic and Japan's View

Environmental changes in the Arctic, caused by global warming (melting of sea ice, permafrost, ice sheet and glaciers, etc.), have brought about new opportunities to the international community, such as utilization of the Arctic Sea Routes and resource development. On the other hand, it has also posed various challenges, such as the acceleration of global warming, its negative impacts on the vulnerable environment of the Arctic, and potential changes in the international security environment, resulting in mounting attention by the international community.

In dealing with these opportunities and challenges over the Arctic, based on a wide range of international cooperation, we have to work out necessary measures through grasping actual condition of environmental changes in the Arctic and its impact on the global environment, as well as precisely predicting further changes. In addition, it is necessary for us to reach a common understanding on appropriate manners of economic use of the Arctic. As a prerequisite for that, actions based on the rule of law must be ensured, which can be seen in dealing with territorial disputes and maritime delimitation issues in the Arctic. In October 2015, Japan adopted its first comprehensive Arctic Policy. Based on this policy, Japan will contribute to the international community as a main player in addressing Arctic issues, especially by making full use of Japan's strength in science and technology.

Post-COP21 Climate Change Negotiations ~ Entering into Force of the Paris Agreement, COP22 ~

Ambassador Hiroshi Minami, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, submitting the instruments of acceptance for the Paris Agreement to the UN representative (November 8, New York, United States (UN Headquarters))Ambassador Hiroshi Minami, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, submitting the instruments of acceptance for the Paris Agreement to the UN representative (November 8, New York, United States (UN Headquarters))

At the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21) held in December 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted as a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which had only imposed the responsibility of reducing emissions on developed countries. The Paris Agreement is the first framework in history that does not distinguish between developed and developing countries; rather, this fair and effective framework allows countries to submit their Nationally Determined Contributions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to implement initiatives toward the achievement of these targets. In 2016, the Paris Agreement came into force less than one year from its adoption. The year continues to be a dynamic one for climate change negotiations, with the work schedule for the steady implementation of the Paris Agreement to be decided on at COP22.

Entering into force of the Paris Agreement

After the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the international community has continued to move ahead with the aim of making the transition into the implementation of the Agreement as soon as possible. At the signing ceremony of the Agreement held at the UN Headquarters in New York in April 2016, as many as 175 countries and regions, which form the majority of the parties to the UNFCCC, signed the Paris Agreement at the same time that the document was released to the public. This was a unanimous declaration by the international community of its will and resolve. On September 3, the United States and China ratified the Agreement by submitting the signed document at the same time, thereby accelerating the move toward the early entering into force of the Agreement. They were followed by India, the EU (some EU member states ratified the Agreement ahead of others) and other countries successively. As a result, 55 countries, which make up 55% of the total volume of emissions in the world, ratified the Agreement, fulfilling the criteria for it to come into force. Hence, the Paris Agreement came into force on November 4, earlier than the international community had initially predicted.


At the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP22) (November 7–18, Marrakech Morocco), the focus was placed on achieving an agreement on the schedule for negotiations of the relevant guidelines for the Agreement, which is the key for the steady implementation of the Paris Agreement in the future. As a result of the negotiations, the COP yielded positive outcomes, including the decision to establish 2018 as the deadline for the adoption of the relevant guidelines. In response to news coming immediately after the opening of the conference that Mr. Trump had been elected as the President of the United States, there was growing concern among the relevant countries about the climate change policies of the next U.S. administration that will be inaugurated in the following year (2017). The conference also served as an opportunity for affirming the unity of the international community. Discussions on the implementation of the Paris Agreement moved forward steadily, and many of the participating countries expressed that steps should be taken toward the resolution of the climate change issue through international cooperation going forward.

Future outlook

In light of the Paris Agreement coming into force in 2016 and the agreement on the work schedule thereafter, climate change negotiations towards the 2018 deadline will move forward on many points at issue, including detailed regulations related to the implementation of actions by each country to reduce emissions. While the big picture for policies of the Trump administration related to the climate change issue, including handling of the Paris Agreement may not necessarily be clear at this point in time, tackling the climate change issue remains a global issue that the entire international community should approach together. Japan is of the view that active involvement by the U.S. is also important, and continues to closely observe the impact that policies put in place by the Trump administration will have on the climate change issue. On top of that, to ensure that each country establish systems that clarify the country's actions to reduce emissions in a way that is highly transparent, Japan will take an active approach toward future negotiations while working closely with the relevant countries.

(B) Active participation in international initiatives on the Arctic

In the area of international initiatives concerning the Arctic, Japan will (1) actively participate in addressing global issues on the Arctic and in international rule-making process over the Arctic; (2) further contribute to the activities of the Arctic Council (AC: An intergovernmental forum led by Arctic states); and (3) expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the Arctic and other countries.

As a part of these efforts, Japan was formally admitted as an observer in AC in May 2013. Since then, Japan has been contributing to activities of the AC through actively participating in discussions by dispatching government officials and experts to related meetings such as the Senior Arctic Official (SAO) meeting, working groups and task forces. Toward further contribution to the AC, Japan will strive to actively participate in discussions on expanding the role of observers, as well as engage in policy dialogues with the AC chair, member states and others.

With a view to demonstrating Japan's efforts on the Arctic, Ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs, Kazuko Shiraishi actively participated in various international forums on the Arctic held in such countries as Russia, the U.S., and Iceland, and exchanged views on the Arctic with countries concerned including the Arctic states.

In April, the Trilateral High-Level Dialogue on the Arctic among Japan, China and the ROK was held for the first time with the participants of government officials from the three countries as well as experts from relevant research institutions. In this dialogue, the three countries exchanged views on such topics as the possibility of future trilateral cooperation on the Arctic.

In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the Ambassador for Arctic Affairs of Finland, which was appointed as the chair country of the AC for two years from 2017, to Japan. Taking this opportunity, he visited Japanese research facilities on the Arctic and exchanged views with a diverse group of people from industries, government and academia including Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei and the Parliamentary League of Arctic Frontier Study. This invitational program promoted his understanding of Japan's initiatives and strengths on Arctic issues, and showed Finland, the next AC chair, Japan's ability to make further contribution to the activities of the AC.

B Antarctic
(A)The Antarctic Treaty

The Antarctic Treaty adopted in 1959 sets forth the following three basic principles: (1) the use of the Antarctica for peaceful purposes, (2) freedom of scientific investigations and international cooperation, and (3) a freeze on territorial rights and claims.

(B) The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the protection of Antarctic environment

The 39th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM 39) was held in Santiago, Chile, from May to June. At this meeting, discussions were held on topics including environmental conservation and observation of the Antarctic, prohibition of mineral resource activities, and Antarctic tourism, taking into account the growing diversification of activities in the Antarctic. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, a symposium was also held in conjunction with this meeting.

(C) Japan's Antarctic observation

Based on the 9th six-year plan of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (2016–2021), Japan is undertaking to reveal the roles and impacts of the Antarctic on the global system of the past, current, and future; particularly through long-term continuous observation for investigating the actual state and mechanism of global warming, as well as through the implementation of various research and observation activities, using large aperture atmospheric radar, etc.